Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson is ridiculous, insane, and hilariously funny. Although a novel, it is based on the (hopefully exaggerated) events of Thompson and the attorney, Oscar Zeta Acosta. In short, Hunter and Acosta’s pseudonymous characters, Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo, go to Vegas with more drugs than a mid-sized pharmacy. Duke is there to report on two events, a motor race and a police conference; Dr. Gonzo is along for the ride. Drugs are consumed, repeatedly; hilarity ensues.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of the best books I’ve read. In between detailing chemically induced hallucinations and the fallout from said hallucinations, Thompson takes cutting shots at everything from Vegas itself (“The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing Saturday night if the Nazis had won the war.”) to his profession (“Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits — a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.”) It is these interludes that make the book. While Thompson describing what it is like to stand in a hotel lobby hallucinating that everyone else is a lizard had me in stitches, it was the cutting interjections that made the book.
Thompson shares a lot in common with Martin Amis (Money was one of my favourite books of last year). Both chronicle the chemically induced idiocy of questionable characters. Both use their novels, and wit, to comment on society as they see it. Both include themselves in the novel even! I’m really enjoying these darker books and will have to add more as some of the as-yet-undecided-novels I suspect. I have several more on the list including some Brett Easton Ellis. It will be interesting to see how I feel about them.